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'On the evidence of THE COMPLAINTS it looks as if Fox will be just as sure-footed a guide to the city as his grizzled predecessor' DAILY EXPRESS.
Nobody likes The Complaints - they're the cops who investigate other cops. Complaints and Conduct Department, to give them their full title, but known colloquially as 'the Dark Side', or simply 'The Complaints'. Malcolm Fox works for The Complaints. He's just had a result, and should be feeling good about himself. But he's middle-aged, sour and unwell. He also has a father in a care home and a sister who persists in an abusive relationship.
In the midst of an aggressive Edinburgh winter, the reluctant Fox is given a new task. There's a cop called Jamie Breck, and he's dirty. Problem is, no one can prove it. But as Fox takes on the job, he learns that there's more to Breck than anyone thinks. This knowledge will prove dangerous, especially when murder intervenes.
Fans of Rankin's Det. Insp. John Rebus will be disappointed by this so-so police procedural, his second stand-alone since Rebus "retired" (after Doors Open). Malcolm Fox call him Rebus "Lite" (he doesn't drink, he broods less, and he has none of Rebus's wit) works for the Scottish equivalent of Internal Affairs, "Complaints and Conduct" (aka "the Complaints"), which investigates corrupt cops. Fox looks into the case of Det. Sgt. Jamie Breck, who may be trading in child pornography over the Internet. Meanwhile, when Vince Faulkner, Fox's sister's lover and abuser, turns up dead, Fox becomes a murder suspect. A torturously complicated plot follows involving the suspicious suicide of a failing property developer, large-scale money laundering, and crookedness at every level of Scottish society, but nothing's really at stake. As always with Rankin, Scotland itself is a main character "the whole of Scotland's in meltdown," says Fox and that may be this tepid novel's main attraction. 10-city author tour.